From The Reprobate, “Your daily slice of art, culture and social commentary,” a photographic review of such long-gone late 1960s–1970s publications as Witchcraft, Bitchcraft, and Satan, all dedicated to the notion that “the occult” was sexy and could sell magazines.
Much of the same content exists today, if you care to look for it, on Tumbler.com and elsewhere. But I don’t know who makes money off it.
Author David Flint notes,
Today, there are several witchcraft magazines in print, but all seem to take themselves and their craft very seriously, and I very much doubt that most of the Witches of Instagram would be very amused by the cheerfully exploitative nature of these ancient publications. But I might be wrong – perhaps there is a gap in the market waiting to be filled. If so, then we are happy to step up and revive this gloriously tacky, cheesy and outrageous world of sex, sin and Satanism.
More than “several,” I think.
Here Caroline Tully offers a detailed review of Satanic Feminism: Lucifer as the Liberator of Women in Nineteenth-Century Culture by Per Faxneld.
This is more a literary than a religious Satanism, although any story of Satan has its religious underpinnings:
Although they attributed positive qualities to the figure of Satan, the subjects examined in this book were not satanists as commonly imagined; that is, they were not believers in a supernatural being called Satan and did not perform rituals dedicated to him. Rather, as Faxneld explains, they were satanists sensu lato (in the broad sense); they used Satan as a symbol to critique Christianity, its accompanying conservative social mores, and patriarchy. Theistic and ritualizing satanism, on the other hand, is termed here sensu stricto (in the strict sense). Thus, the book is not about satanism as a religious practice but as a “discursive strategy”
There is a chapter on “Satanic” witchcraft:
One of the most prominent examples of the negative association between women and Satan was the figure of the witch. In chapter 6, Faxneld investigates works such as Jules Michelet’s La Sorcière (E. Dentu Libraire-Editeur, 1862), arguably “the single most influential text presenting a sort of feminist version of witches” (198). Relevant to new religious movements today, Michelet’s ideas about witches influenced authors who in turn were used as sources in the construction of modern pagan witchcraft. Feminist Matilda Joslyn Gage interpreted witches as satanic rebels against the injustices of patriarchy; and amateur folklorist Charles Godfrey Leland’s work Aradia; or, the Gospel of the Witches (1899), which presented witches as proto-feminist rebels against social oppression, continues to hold an authoritative position within the contemporary pagan witchcraft movement.
This review and many others can be found at Reading Religion, an ongoing collection of book reviews provided by the American Academy of Religion. You do not have to be an AAR member to read them, although a member login is required to comment on reviews.
That’s our idol, and we will see you in court! The Satanic Temple is going after Netflix for using their Baphomet in the new “Sabrina the Satanic Witch” series. (OK, its real name is Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Via The Daily Grail.)
I think I blogged her before. Or I should have: “Orgasms I have with my spirit lovers have been way more satisfying than any I’ve had with ordinary men.” (No, it was someone else who had a “sex with ghosts” website, now 404’d.)
An underground chamber has been located under the Pyramid of the Moon in the ancient Mexican city of Teotihuacán. Was it a place for initiatory or shamanic ceremonies, or was it where they kept the . . . special Beast? (Via The Daily Grail.)
A Room Full of Eerie, Masked Idols Has Been Discovered in Peru. “Deep in the enormous citadel of an ancient Peruvian culture, archaeologists have uncovered a corridor containing 19 mysterious black wooden statues.” “We assume they are guardians,” said an archaeologist. Or maybe they were special Beasts. (Via The Daily Grail.)
¶ The Washington Post runs a non-snarky article about a psychiatrist who thinks that demons are real.
So began an unlikely partnership. For the past two-and-a-half decades and over several hundred consultations, I’ve helped clergy from multiple denominations and faiths to filter episodes of mental illness — which represent the overwhelming majority of cases — from, literally, the devil’s work.
Bonus: a satanic witch priestess.
¶ How did the swastika go from worldwide good luck symbol to a symbol of evil. Richard Smoley explains:
And yet not so long ago it was a symbol of blessings and good fortune. Even its name is derived from Sanskrit roots meaning “it is good.” (Other names given to it include the cross patteé, the gammadion, the hakenkreuz or hooked cross, and the fylfot.) Today, in a somewhat truncated form, it still occupies a place in the official symbol of the Theosophical Society.
The peculiar fate of the swastika has a great deal to teach about the nature and meaning of symbols — and about the uses to which they can be put.
¶ A lightweight article from Ireland on Witchcraft. Something to read before you apply more sunscreen. “Janet” is, of course, Janet Farrar.
Utility seax from Fay’s Forge
• At Fay’s Forge you may buy “knives, swords, and do castings from the Celtic, migration, Anglo Saxon, and Norse cultures.” Support your local shieldmaiden.
• Probably it would be more accurate to say that the planned Black Mass terrifies some Christians in Oklahoma. And before you dump on Oklahoma, remember that Harvard University backed down from a similar proposal!
• I have ordered this book: Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms: Journeys Into the Disappearing Religions of the Middle East.
With Daesh slaughtering and enslaving Yezidis and Mandeans, etc., “disappearing” may not be an exaggeration. As a long review in The Revealer asks,
Will the funeral pyres of the Zoroastrians still alight the dusks of Iran and India? Will the Copts still maintain the well where Mary and Joseph quenched Jesus’ thirst upon the flight into Egypt? Will the Samaritans still smear the blood of the lamb upon their lintels as their ancestors in bondage did? Will the wooden idols of the Kalasha look out at the unforgiving and cragged landscape of the Kush? What of the Yazidis who believe that God is so benevolent that even the devil can be saved? Or the Mandaeans who whisper secrets in the language of the Magi and the Chaldean wizards?
Dennis Wheatley (1897–1977), British military intelligence operative and author of occult-horror novels, is supposed to have left the “strategic military deception” trade after World War II, but his spirit evidently lived on.
According to a recent article in The Guardian newspaper, during “the Troubles” — the period of conflict between versions of the Irish Republican Army and their Unionist [loyalist] opponents that peaked during the late 1960s and 1970s — British intelligence operatives tried to create a “Satanic panic” that would hinder all the so-called paramilitary groups.
Many Irish nationalists were strong Catholics, while many Unionists were followers of the “Free Presbyterian” minister/politician Ian Paisley. Both were likely to accept the idea of Wheatley-style Satanists among them:
The head of the army’s “black operations” in Northern Ireland, Captain Colin Wallace [said] that they deliberately stoked up a satanic panic from 1972 to 1974, even placing black candles and upside-down crucifixes in derelict buildings in some of Belfast’s war zones.
Then, army press officers leaked stories to newspapers about black masses and satanic rituals taking place from republican Ardoyne in north Belfast to the loyalist-dominated east of the city.
If nothing else, it kept gullible teenagers off the street late at night, maybe.
¶ Andy Letcher goes to Helston in Cornwall for Flora Day, with flowers, pageantry, and the Furry Dance:
Then there is the Furry Dance itself. According to Ronald Hutton, the first mention of any Mayish activities in Helston is in 1600, but the dance is the last surviving Cornish Processional Dance (of which there were once many). It became popular, and formalised, in the nineteenth century, a legacy that remains, giving it the feel of something out of Trumpton
There are four dances throughout the day, each processing right round the town and in and out of select shops and houses. They’re driven along by the Helston Town Band playing that tune.
If it’s a contender for the most irritating tune ever written then that’s only because some of us are old enough to remember Terry Wogan’s ghastly 1978 chart-topping rendition of the song (which is a later addition). In fact the tune is full of pomp and brilliantly infectious. It echoes round the streets and does the job of spurring the dancers on.
¶ Apuleius Platonicus tries to put to rest the idea that Hitler and his inner circle were some kind of Nazi Neo-Pagans with a post titled “Hitler Hated Heathens.”
I disagree though with his flip over to the position that Hitler was therefore pro-Christian. In fact, he regarded both Catholic and Lutheran clergy and those would revive ancient Germania as useful idiots — fine if they helped the cause; otherwise, they got a nice holiday at a camp in the countryside. Since the majority of Germans were Christians, it helped to have compliant clergy give the Nazi message a Christian garnish— pray for the troops, etc.
¶ At Invocatio, scholar of esotericism Sarah Veale looks at the Harvard Black Mass story, which has set a black cat among the journalistic pigeons this week.
The shock value of Satanic transgression, ironically—and ideally—will lead to greater discussion about the place of religion in the public sphere. Will it lead to acceptance for marginalized groups? I’m not sure. But it illustrates quite clearly that the laws are for all.
(We saw what you did there, Sarah.)
¶ Joe Laycock examined the mythologies behind True Detective. (I have not seen it, being much the same situation as Jason Pitzl-Waters.)
Religion scholar Philip Jenkins has suggested these two sources—contemporary Satanic Panic and the “weird tales” of pulp horror—are connected. He suggests that it was the weird tales authors of the 1920s, notably Lovecraft and Herbert Gorman, who first introduced the idea of secret, murderous cults into the American consciousness.
¶ Those so-called “hex signs” on Pennsylvania Dutch barns? They have little to do with witches and magic, notes librarian of esotericsm Dan Harms in a book review.
From time to time, I’m asked if The Long-Lost Friend has anything to do with hex signs, those beautiful star and flower figures that decorate the barns across much of eastern Pennsylvania and adjacent areas where German settlers made their homes. The answer is, “Not really,” with a follow-up about the possibility of a mystical link that might or might not be present. Hex Signs provides us with answers to these questions, and much more.
¶ Speaking of folklore, Ethan Doyle White notes a free online special issue of the journal Folklore, focusing on folklore and Paganism. Lots of good material there.
Debbie Nathan, a journalist whose work did a lot to bring down the “Satanic panic” movement of the 1980s, has now turned her literary guns on a classic of my young adulthood: Sybil, supposedly a true story of a girl with multiple personalities.
Debbie Nathan’s “Sybil Exposed” is about psychiatric fads, outrageous therapeutic malpractice, thwarted ambition run amok, and several other subjects, but above all, it is a book about a book. Specifically, that book is Sybil, purportedly the true story of a woman with 16 personalities. First published in 1973, Sybil remains in print after selling over 6 million copies in the U.S. alone.
Somewhat similarly to Michelle Remembers (1980), it took the conjunction of a gullible (and fantasizing?) therapist and a definitely fantasy-prone patient who could spin out “unreliable confessions and bizarre fantasies” while under the influence of sodium pentothal “truth serum” to get the ball rolling.
Add a writer and later a screenwriter and you have literary and cinematic hits.
The therapist, Dr. Cornelia Wilbur, did her part to promote the myth of intergenerational satanic conspiracies:
She played a key role in promoting the belief that conspiracies of fiendish, sadistic adults were secretly perpetrating murder, child rape and mutilation, human sacrifice, and cannibalism across the country and that repressed memories of such atrocities lay at the root of most MPDs. Innocent people were convicted of these crimes on the basis of testimony elicited from highly suggestible small children and hypnotized adults. Families were sundered by therapists who convinced their patients that they’d suffered similar ordeals despite having no conscious memory of it. This opened the door to years of expensive and ineffective therapy.
Read the rest.
Call for papers:
Satanism is a subject that has always drawn a lot of media attention as well as interest from the general public. Scholarly studies of the subject, however, have more often focused on socially constructed “Satanic Panics” than on Satanism as a religious alternative in itself.
Recently, this has begun to change, and anthologies such as Contemporary Religious Satanism have started to fill the gaps in scholarly knowledge concerning Satanism.
A further attempt to remedy the situation was made when the first ever international scholarly conference on Satanism was organized in Trondheim, Norway, in 2009. The conference was a great success, and resulted in an anthology that will be published by Oxford University Press later this year.
In September 2011, we welcome you to Stockholm, Sweden for the follow-up to 2009’s gathering of specialists.
Keynote speaker: Marco Pasi
Deadline for abstracts: May 22, 2011.
Submit your abstract to firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:email@example.com> and firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:email@example.com> (remember to submit abstracts to both organisers).
Papers dealing with most aspects of Satanism are welcome (including Satanism in literature, cinema, etc). However, we discourage papers treating “the Satanic panic”, “Satanic ritual abuse”, etc, as these themes have received sufficient scholarly attention.
Conference fee will be announced later.